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Letter to Col. North of the NRA -- Re: CARA Bill

from AND NRA Member, Tom Childs

Thomas W. Childs, IV
Global Village Managers
4587 Morgate Circle, N.W.
Canton, OH 44708
Tel. 330-478-8942
Fax: 330-478-8943

Sent 24 August, 2001

Lt. Col. Oliver North, USMC, (ret.) 
Board Member,
The National Rifle Association,
11250 Waples Mill Road,
Fairfax, VA 22030

Ref. NRA Support of the Young CARA Bill, H.R. 701

Dear Col. North,

I am writing to you in an appeal to your proven good judgment, and am asking for an opportunity of explaining why the NRA should not support the pending subject bill. As a long ago member of the USMC Reserve myself, a 40 plus year member of the NRA, a committed shooter, and Jeffersonian believer in the Republic, I am convinced that the views expressed below fairly reflect my own and many of my fellow NRA members' concerns.

We perceive the CARA Bill of Don Young as a major invasion of private property rights and a potential time bomb for hunters, fishermen and free men considerately using the open lands of America. We vigorously dispute the utility of extracting one of ten Titles within the Bill as allegedly beneficial to NRA members – while ignoring the import of the whole Bill – and the ultimately disastrous effects on all property owning Americans. Since many NRA members are property owners, we maintain that short sighted and arguably faulty ILA reasoning has produced an explosively destructive condition within the Association. We urge you to convince your fellow Board members and President Charlton Heston to meet with attorney Fred Kelly Grant (current counsel to “Stewards of the Range” in the South West, and ex United States Attorney) to hear his specialized legal analysis of the CARA Bill. Mr. Grant has made it known to Mr. Jay Zane Walley of the Paragon Action Group that he will travel to Virginia to discuss the overall implications of CARA with the NRA Board, provided he is invited to do so.

While I don't know the specifics of how the NRA decided to support – in whatever manner – the CARA Bill, I strongly suspect that Representative Don Young of Alaska, current Board member of the NRA, is largely responsible for lobbying that decision. I have reached that conclusion following a review of Susan Lamson's letter of 31 May, 2000, to The Honorable Robert C. Smith, the Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, reading a number of related articles, and reviewing an extensive list of correspondence and member comments. I also learned from Ms. Lamson on the telephone that James J. Baker, Executive Director of the ILA, is the ultimate authority for the decision to support CARA. My suspicion is that Young mainly lobbied Baker, who, for reasons not yet apparent, caved in.

In fact, James Baker has posted on the ILA website a brief comment about the NRA's support of CARA, explaining that the decision was reached allegedly solely to express NRA approval of Title III of the Bill, which deals with wildlife and conservation. 

But Baker's purpose in posting his explanation for the NRA support of CARA, on 22 August, 2001, isn't designed to provide members a long overdue justification of this ill designed ILA policy. Rather his purpose is to attack those members (Mr. Jay Zane Walley being singled out) who have expressed a deep concern over the NRA's position.

It is apparent, of course, that Title 3 of CARA might result in certain Federal Funds being allocated to improving shooting awareness, education, shooting ranges and hunting in America, in effect taking over the old Pittman-Robertson responsibilities. In fact, however, Baker's statement on NRA's support of CARA, taken in conjunction with the letter of 31 May, 2000 by Susan Lamson, the NRA Director of Wildlife and Conservation, makes it quite clear that no matter what else is contained in CARA, the NRA solely supports the Title III references. But this is a very dangerous policy position, and one we believe to be destructive of the Association. Support for one out of the ten titles in CARA is impossible without being perceived to tacitly support the rest. 

As noted in a separate posting, we have pointed out that a German in 1943, supporting Hitler's “Final Solution” because it provided jobs for chemical workers making Zygon B gas, does not escape being held accountable for supporting the overall purpose of the “Final Solution” - in murdering 8 million Jews, Gypsies and others. There are parts to CARA every bit as iniquitous as some of Hitler's worst policies, and every bit as much condemning of their current supporters. Empowering the Left through ESA and EPA strategies designed to facilitate land expropriation – even to providing new and more effective means for eco-terrorist attacks on Americans' property is not what the NRA is all about.

In fact, Baker's dismissal of Mr. Walley's concerns over CARA's Title II – which relates to the Federal Government's added powers for the acquisition of more private land – quite deliberately fails to take account of the legitimacy of Mr. Walley's concerns, and is therefore down-right irresponsible and unacceptable. While there is no doubt that the NRA has a “single issue charter”, as Baker notes, he adds “(R)est assured that NRA would not attach its name and support to a bill if its effect was to infringe upon any of our members' Constitutional rights.” Yet David Riggs, Director of Land and Natural Resource Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) describes CARA: 

“It is an affront to American taxpayers and a threat to both current property owners and anyone who wants to own property in the future. In addition, CARA would threaten the ability of sportsmen to pursue hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation across the country.” 

Allison Freeman, environmental policy analyst at CEI puts the matter succinctly:

“Four out of ten acres in the United States are already owned by federal, state, county or local governments. Most of this land is grossly mismanaged, including sixty percent of the national forests that are considered to be in a 'very unhealthy' condition. Transferring well-managed private lands into the hands of federal bureaucrats is the height of irresponsibility.”

Adopting the attitude of James Baker who notes that “I doubt that any private property protections built into CARA will satisfy those of our citizens who oppose any further land acquisitions and expansion of the federal estate” is both cynical and inappropriate for a Director of the ILA. It is also totally inconsistent with his contention that the NRA will not support anti-Constitutional bills. Using the national platform of the NRA for a tacit approval of what amounts to a “Land Grab Bill” is indescribably destructive of the Association. In fact, as you will note from the accompanying CEI assessment of the overall prospective impact of CARA, “the bill actually eliminates property protection provisions in current law.” How can one then accept Baker's contention that the NRA “would not attach its name and support to a bill if its effect was to infringe upon any of our members' Constitutional rights?”

In fact, as an article by Wes Vernon at states today, G. Ray Arnett, former Executive Vice-President of the NRA, says CARA is "a disaster for property owners,” recalling that Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., has referred to its claims of protecting property owners as "a head fake.” Perhaps more bitingly – it contains deliberate misrepresentations of the federal powers being expanded, as it does not protect land owners!

Justice Joseph Story (Supreme Court Justice 1811- 1845) states in his still current exposition on the Constitution, “Without Justice being fully, freely, and impartially administered, neither our persons, nor our rights, nor our property can be protected.” That is what CARA is all about, Colonel. It is all about abusing our essential property rights.

"Every owner of a ranch, farm, woodlot or game preserve will be at risk of being targeted by government agencies working in tandem with environmental, anti-hunting and animal rights pressure groups,” Arnett predicts. Now how on earth has Baker established his position – allegedly as a competent attorney? One must turn again to the pork-barrel politicking of Alaska's Don Young. Clearly wearing two ethically conflicting hats, this politico of far too many years' experience should have recused himself from the NRA discussion. It is evident that he didn't.

Col. North, you have consistently demonstrated throughout your remarkable career that the Constitutional provisions that are responsible for the creation and sustenance of this great land are of primary importance. We believe that your presence on the Board of the NRA provides you an opportunity to ensure that this vital organization's duties to the shooting American are not bent to the doubtful purposes of cynical politicians, and arrogant bureaucrats.

It is not possible to cherry-pick one allegedly desirable aspect of a Bill (H.R. 701) for support and not effectively be numbered amongst the supporters of the multitude of ugly and unconstitutional provisions that threaten American private landowners. The vast majority of NRA members are private landowners, many of whom live within the bounds of already targeted federal acquisitions. By permitting the NRA to remain in support of Congressman Don Young's CARA (Alaska already being in the position of having less than one percent of its land held privately!) our organization records its tacit and ill-considered approval of the unconstitutional and iniquitous provisions of the whole Bill.

Fortunately, Col. North, you don't have to accept the validity of our contentions in this letter and supporting documentation. As noted above, Mr. Jay Walley has arranged with ex-United States attorney Fred Kelly Grant, to come to Virginia and to discuss in detail the provisions of CARA with the NRA Board. We urge and implore you to convince your fellow Board members and President Heston to accept Mr. Grant's offer, and to invite him to speak to the Board as soon as possible.

Col. North, it has been my privilege to belong to the NRA for a great many years. I have, along with countless fellow members, unqualifiedly supported its efforts to protect the Second Amendment and to counter the iniquitous efforts of the left wing establishment media and many politicians to disembowel the fundamental Right to Keep and Bear Arms. I am convinced, together with many more notable members of the NRA than I, that it would be doing the Association an irreparable harm to have it on the record as supporting the unconstitutional efforts of cynically greedy politicians – just to cater to a deemed plumb in wildlife conservation.

We jointly and severally beg your support for an immediate review of the NRA's position on this extremely disturbing matter.

“The people of every country are the only safe guardians of their own rights and are the only instrument which can be used for their destruction." - Thomas Jefferson

Yours sincerely,

Thomas W. Childs, IV
Enclosure (1)

Related Article and Supportive Documentation:

NRA vs. Land Rights: You Decide Who's Right


Printer Version

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